We had the good fortune of connecting with EnerJi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi EnerJi, why did you pursue a creative career?
I never really had a choice. I’ve always been an Artist. I have always been a Creative. In high school I remember re-conceptualizing Descartes’ philosophical statement of “I think, therefore I am” to “I Art, therefore I am”. I instinctively knew that I was meant for a different path. There would be no other way.
I was reminded of it time and time again throughout the pursuit of a “professional” career because even when I tried to fit myself into a less creative or “corporate” environment – despite achieving much success – something always got in the way of my feeling any sort of true fulfillment or contentment. Something was always “off”. I’d end up bored, unhappy, undervalued, overworked, over-stressed – or some toxic combination thereof.
That’s not to suggest that the pursuit of an artistic or creative career is one without a LOT of work or the presence of stress. It’s just that for your creativity, your purpose, your dreams – all that stuff is worth it.
Once I stopped trying to fit myself into boxes that weren’t meant for me and realized that I’m here to create and push my own boundaries – that “there is no box” – I got free. It’s been non-stop ever since.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
On June 19, 2019 I quit my last ill-suited, full-time office job as a Media Specialist and Marketing Manager and decided once and for all I was going to move forward professionally on my own terms.
Since graduating college over a decade prior with my BFA in Computer Animation (and a full grasp of digital art and design), I’d toyed with the idea of working as a completely Freelance/Independent Artist, but I had no idea HOW to make that work in a way that supported me financially AND fulfilled my creative spirit. But life has a way of bringing you to your edge and pushing you off of it when you dawdle with taking a leap of faith.
By that Summer I’d had enough of being unappreciated, overworked, and creatively abused, so I left the “dream job” (on paper… in reality it was the exact same shit-storm as any other corporatized job – just packaged differently) and put every ounce of my energy into working independently. I’d had enough exposure to the artistic landscape of my city to have a fair idea of where and with whom to align myself so that I might be able to CREATE opportunities in my own lane. By the Fall of that same year I found myself at another Arts organization, but only working part time – and for a while it was a good fit. I was able to make enough money to support myself and my needs without having to sacrifice my sanity or my Artistry.
Then COVID hit.
I won’t get into the details of how that last job fell apart, but needless to say, it was not pretty and it exposed even more of the sordid underbelly that can exist within the realms of Arts Administration – at least it did for me. I found myself “independently employed” once again, on top of being terrified of the pandemic that was just starting to rear it’s ugly head, AND grieving the death of my Father in December of 2019.
2020 was already going to be a crappy year for me and the pandemic was no improvement. At least, not at first.
Like most everyone else, I spent most of my time inside during 2020, but that going inward was both literal and figurative for me. I had already started going to therapy (we knew my dad was on the decline and having never lost anyone that close to me, I knew I was going to need help processing and getting through), and with nothing else to do but try to heal and occupy my time, I turned to my ultimate form of therapy – Music.
I was burned out on trying to figure out what to do with my Visual/Digital Art and Media Marketing skills, and the world was at a standstill anyway, so I put my energy into focusing on improving my DJ abilities. My friend and DJ Mentor, Mas Appeal, had been training me for a few months prior to the shut down and I found that spinning and mixing was an Art that I could not only get lost in, but heal through. My Father was a HUGE music connoisseur and spent my whole life exposing me to all types and genres of music. He really instilled in me an acute appreciation for the sound and FEELING of music, and through DJing I found a new way to not only appreciate music, but to share it.
I have always been fascinated with the Artistry behind DJing. Mixing, blending, educating your listeners – it’s what my favorite DJs did for me and what I was beginning to be able to do for others. Being able to find and share that connection has been a priceless part of my healing over the past year and a half.
I’m now at a place where I am using ALL of my artistic skills to connect and create. I’ve gotten back into working independently as a graphic artist and branding specialist; I started a podcast with two dear friends of mine and we’re recording our third season; and I spin at LEAST once a week, every week, and am delighted to share healing through music.
Losing my Dad and the presence of this global pandemic has resulted in nearly two years of reality checks and perspective shifts for me. I no longer want to be part of any system that only takes from me and my creativity without pouring ANYTHING back in. I’ve had to learn to move in faith and trust that if I stay the course and do what I am here to do – to CREATE – I will be taken care of.
Life is too short to stress about anything less.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Hmm… Well, things have been a little different in these times of COVID, and I’m not one of these girls out here in these streets like people aren’t dying… BUT… assuming that we could do these things safely this is what I’d do:
I’m going to assume my bestie gets into town mid week and is ready to check out the scene in Duval. On Wednesday night I’d take them to a spot in Downtown Jax called Headroom for an event by the name of Wax-n-Whiskey. It’s a weekly event presented by another Artist/DJ friend of mine – PapiDisco – that’s all about Vinyl. DJs can come in, bring their crates of whatever they want to play on vinyl, and sign up for what’s essentially an “open mic”. DJs also bring crates of vinyl available for sale, there’s food, drink… it’s good time.
I’m a foodie so I’d plan plenty of brunches and dinners at my favorite spots. A few include: Cool Moose Cafe, The Fox Diner, The Brick, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Crave Ramen, Sake House, Indochine, Tuptim Thai, Mad O’s Seafood (some of the best Jamaican food in town – gotta represent my culture!)… the list goes on! Jacksonville – specifically the Urban Core area where I live and work – has TONS of great places to grab a bite or a drink. It really just comes down to what you have a taste for.
On Friday I’d invite them to chill with me in the studio for my live stream – The Vibe w/EnerJi – that I do every 1st and 3rd Friday on Twitch. Then we’d get right back up on Saturday and we’d head to my weekly spin at Beats, Brunch, and Bubbly at Rain Dogs in Historic Five Points (lots of great dining and shopping in that area as well) for dope beats, bottomless mimosas, and brunch from one of our affiliated local vendors.
We’d definitely spend a lot of time outside in nature – Jacksonville is a beautiful city with lots of water access – rivers and beaches. We’d definitely spend some time at one (or more) of our many beautiful beaches. I’d make the trip as chill and as fun as possible.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people to thank and acknowledge. I’ll try to keep it short.
My Mother and late Father, Jennifer and Cecil – without them I would literally not be here. They instilled in me everything I have to push, strive, and succeed in the many ways I have. My husband is an amazing supporter and a fellow Creative so he GETS IT (and that’s not easy to come by in a partner). The handful of REAL friends I have in my corner, specifically (but certainly not limited to) my DJ Sensei Mas Appeal; my Producer Mr. Al Pete, CEO of The MPN Network; my soul sisters and fellow Therapy, Not Therapy Podcast Hosts Che and Chelle who provide DAILY support and safe spaces for me; my extended family, friends, and supporters… I see you and I honor you all.
Marquis Walker James Watson Jihan White